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Humane Husbandry - by Ron Skaar

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Humane Husbandry - by Ron Skaar 

by Ron Skaar

Our primate ancestors were surviving primarily on plant foods at the beginning of the Stone Age. Drastic climate change destroyed vegetation which led these hominids to feed on the new abundance of animal carcasses. This high-protein food source probably helped speed up our evolution and certainly aided in their migrations.

No one knows if the middle Paleolithic people had anything to do with the division of wolfs from dogs, which happened about 100,000 years ago. Recent studies found that the early European dog was probably domesticated over 30,000 years ago. Ancient peoples need for help herding and hunting prey plus being an early alarm system cemented the band between dogs and humans.  

In Persia, around the 10th century B.C. the goat became the second animal to be domesticated. Hardiest of the mountainous ruminant species, it will eat almost all vegetation, from which it produces unique flavored milk. Its close cousin, the sheep was domesticated in the same area and similar time period, bred for wool, meat, fat and milk. The sheep’s milk is richer in fat and protein, prized in cheese making. 

Goats, sheep, yaks, water buffalo and cattle were bred for milks production. All these animals are ruminants, which turn grasslands and arid land into liquid human food. Cows were domesticated in the Middle East around 8,000 B.C. They were bred to put energy into making milk verses bone and muscle. Dairying became the most efficient way of getting nourishment from wild land. 

Ruminants regurgitate and re-chew food that is partially digested to create nourishment from high fiber, low-quality plant life. One fifth of their body weight is a four chamber stomach which produces large amounts of milk on feed useless to us.

Like milk and seeds, eggs are designed to be food and support new life. Eggs existed long before chickens. Millions of years ago, reptiles delivered durable eggs which contained enough water and food for the infant animal to mature. The eggs of birds can be traced back nearly 100 million years. Chicken species have been around a fraction of that time, domesticated around the same time as cows. Like milk, the egg is a near perfect human food and so very well packaged, while containing a completely balanced portion of animal nutrients. 

All of the animals listed above are sacrificed for their meat. There was also one other thing our Stone Age ancestors relied on the dog for, food. Becoming “mans best friend” ended most of that practice. “In order to eat meat, we necessarily cause the death of other creatures that feel fear and pain, and whose flesh resembles our own” writes the incredible Harold McGee in his “On Food and Cooking”

Mr. McGee understands that meat is “an integral part of most food traditions.” But, if we show more humanness to all our animals won’t we eventually get back to the diet that our very earliest ancestors enjoyed?

 


 

Spinach & Goat Cheese Fritata ~ 4servings.

 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small leek, white and tender green parts only, halved lenghtwise,

cleaned and cut into 1/2 in pieces

1 cup baby spinach

8 large eggs, beaten

salt and fresh ground pepper

3 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled

 

Heat olive oil in 12-inch, non-stick oven proof skillet.Cook leek in skillet until softened and lightly browned. Add spinach and cook until wilted.Transfer leek and spinach to plate. Season beaten eggs with salt and pepper, add to skillet and cook for about 1 minute.Scattered the reserved leek, spinach and crumbled cheese over the eggs.

Bake for about 4 minutes, or until fritatta is set. Slide onto cutting board, cut into wedges and serve at once.